Prism and Praxis Reflections

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but we finally made it! We have a fully functional tool, we’ve fulfilled our goals from our charter, and we can all look back on everything we’ve learned this year and be astonished by how far we’ve come.

Although I wasn’t an absolute newbie to the DH and programming world when Praxis began, I’m still amazed by how much more I know now.  When I began, I knew HTML, CSS, and a smattering of javascript, and now I also know Ruby, Rails, coffeescript, much more javascript, and how to write tests in RSPEC and Jasmine.  I’ve also become better at thinking like a programmer; when I started, it took forever to figure out how to do basic programming tasks, like creating loops or methods, but now it feels straightforward.  I’ve also become much better at trouble-shooting.  I remember when we were all having trouble installing everything we needed for Rails and Ruby, I had no idea what the lines I typed into the terminal meant, and I had no idea what to do when it gave me error messages, but now I understand the error message and know how to fix the problem, or know where to look to find the answers, and I feel much more confident working from the command line instead of the GUI.  The most gratifying experience for me as the developer came from building the highlighting and visualization functionality; it was incredibly empowering to go from having no idea of how to split the task into its component parts or how to then reconnect those parts, to understanding it in the abstract, to actually building the working code.  I especially loved learning how d3.js worked and writing one short algorithm that fundamentally changed the appearance of our text.

I also had a fantastic time working with the rest of the team.  We all learned to work together, to help each other solve problems and design Prism, and to laugh together when things didn’t quite go according to plan.  It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work alongside them, and I’ll definitely miss the group next year.

Although we’ve worked hard and had our stressful times, Praxis has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I’m grateful to the Scholars’ Lab for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a fantastic program.

Annie was a 2012-2013 Scholars' Lab Fellow, a 2011-12 Praxis Fellow and a PhD candidate in the Department of English.

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